By: Chris Warren.
All government plans large or small are seldom the original work of the congressmen and senators who vote on them. An army of consultants and researchers are brought in and paid very well to help shape a concept into actual written policies and laws. The process can take years and the end result is usually at least hundreds of not thousands of pages long.
Not long ago economist Johnathan Gruber was just another healthcare policy nerd almost completely unknown outside of Washington DC. Guys like him very seldom become public celebrities. Gruber is the rare exception. Behind what he said when he thought no one was paying attention (and kicked him straight into the headlines) is a bigger idea that has nothing to do with his area of professional expertise.
Having been paid millions in consulting fees to help the federal government and numerous states implement the historic healthcare law that he was a point man on, one would think that Gruber above anyone would believe in his own creation and be proud to explain the benefits of the law on its own merits and how it’s going to help every American.
What actually happened needs little explanation because it was all carefully documented in a series of videos starring Gruber himself speaking at various conferences and meetings. The theme of the speeches is that Gruber admits the legislation was purposely rigged to confuse and mislead and hide the fact that most of us were going to get screwed by this law. In his own words, American voters are “stupid”. He piously goes on to declare that the deception was worth it for the greater good of getting the law passed.
And therein lies the lesson. Gruber has validated what so many Americans already know: Government, particularly the liberal Democrat kind, believe they are intellectually and morally superior and know what’s best for everyone. They toil for the ungrateful heathens. Their dishonesty is warranted because we of the ignorant masses are not complex enough to process or appreciate the gift of government oversight. There is no problem that cannot be solved with tax dollars and legislation. It is the very reason the Democratic Party exists.
Republicans have for their part largely avoided the big government label. The reasons why should not make them feel proud. Everything is relative in politics. Republicans are indeed a big government party; Democrats are a bigger government party. It’s a completely fair observation that Republicans have their own brand of overbearing “nanny state” attitudes stamped into their positions, it’s just that the Democrats have gone out of their way to make it a deliberate part of their platform. Or more cynically, the Republicans are better at hiding it.
It’s been floating around in the media that the current Congress (2013-2014 session) is the “least productive” in history based on the number of laws passed. Only a big government stooge would think passing laws just for the sake of saying you did something counts as “productivity.” I’m taking it in the other direction: The less they get done the better. As the 2014 midterm elections have proven, Americans are in no mood for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid blessing us with more of their great ideas. My definition of productivity is the liberal elite having the least possible number of opportunities to screw with my life.
In the midst of beating up the political parties, it’s worth noting that American voters are themselves complicit in the bullshit. Congress’ approval rating is lower than a sewer rat, yet somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% of incumbents managed to get reelected in the 2014 midterms, and many of them did it without even a serious challenge in the primaries last spring. Where is the incentive for congress to change? Why should they be expected to bust their ass to do a good job if there is no penalty for screwing off? At some point voters forfeit the right to whine about elected officials. I’m not sure where that point is, but I bet we’re real close to it.
Polls show that even though Americans disapprove of congress by enormous margins, they tend to like their individual representative. That may explain why they keep getting reelected. Congressional reps are like toddlers who are cute and adorable until they are placed in a group with other toddlers. Then they turn into wretched evil quarreling beasts. It’s sad that the analogy fits so well.
So we are trapped with two major political parties, one only marginally better than the other but both nonetheless think they can run our lives better than we can ourselves. Gruber’s loose-lipped remarks, disrespectful as they may be, are unusual only in that he had the arrogance to utter them in front of a camera and a microphone and think he fooled everyone. His confidence that he was righteous in doing so is standard progressivist behavior, although they usually pull it off with a little more finesse. According to liberal doctrine, Gruber’s offense was not his disdain for ordinary Americans, it was his exposing the calculated deceit.